Discover how easy it is to make t-shirts with a Cricut Explore Machine. I’ve included fun ideas & beginner’s instructions in this post.
If you are a new Cricut user wanting to make a t-shirt or just need a quick refresher, you’ve come to the right place!
How to Use Cricut Everyday Iron-On Vinyl
In this post, we will apply a one-color graphic to a t-shirt with Cricut Everyday Vinyl Iron-on and a Cricut Explore 2.
I have a free t-shirt design (SVG file) for you if you subscribe to my newsletter! Just sign up to get access and download the file.
PS. My cute model is a family member. 😁
Beginner Cricut Projects
Today’s project ideas are beginner-friendly, and I am breaking them down into bite-size steps.
If you do it correctly, your shirt can be machine-washed up to 50 times! Isn’t that awesome?
You will quickly get the hang of the process and want to create more of everything! For reals.
What do you need to use heat transfer vinyl? I’ve put together a list below.
You get some of the tools with your Cricut Machine purchase, so be sure to check the box before buying other items. Affiliate links are in color below.
Equipment and Tools
Cricut Smart Cutting Machine* HERE
Fine Point or Premium Fine Point blade*
12-inch Light HERE or StandardGrip Cutting Mat* HERE
Tape Measure or Ruler*
Cricut Heat Mat HERE or HERE (or Towels)
EasyPress HERE (or Household Iron)
Weeding Tools HERE or HERE (or Dental Pick)
Design Space (on a computer or mobile device)
or Cricut Joy app
Check this post for more ideas about the best blank t-shirts for heat transfer vinyl.
If you are just getting started and want to save money, you do not have to buy everything on the equipment and tools listed above.
I added asterisks (*) to the items I feel are must-haves to make your iron-on projects easier.
In my opinion, the items without the asterisks you can add to your collection when you are ready. Do whatever works best for you! 😉
Below are alternative options for the nice-to-haves on the list.
You can use towels instead of a heat mat to save money.
For weeding, you can use a dental pick and a tweezer. Works great! I did purchase the EasyPress.
You can use a household iron instead if you are careful.
NOTE You DO need a web application and all of the consumable products listed in the other categories above though.
Are you considering another Cricut machine? Here is a Cricut Joy review.
Design Considerations for your T-Shirt Art
Decide on the size and placement of the artwork on your shirt.
Do you want the design on the front, back, center, side, or sleeve, etc.?
It may be helpful to look in your closet for t-shirt ideas for positioning.
If you would rather purchase a graphic tee, check out these cool book themed t-shirts
If you find a placement you like on items you already own, copy those positioning measurements if the two shirts are similar.
You can always eyeball the positioning, but it’s best to measure to get the best results.
Starting from scratch? Below are some great industry tips for placement.
Positioning your Artwork on the T-Shirt
If you want to mark the center of the shirt ahead of time, you can fold it evenly in half lengthwise and crosswise, then make a slight press with your hand or heat press.
It will stay visible enough to be able to easily center and straighten your artwork.
Centered designs The top of your artwork should be approximately 2-4 inches down from the collar.
Adult-size shirts Make the size of your artwork approximately 11-13 inches smaller than the shirt’s width.
For example, if your shirt is 20 inches wide (20-12=8), your artwork would be 8 inches wide
Set up a Cricut Workspace
You will want to set up a space to work in. Get everything ready to make your projects go as smoothly as possible.
Set up your Cricut machine, your computer or mobile device loaded with Cricut Design Space, a pressing area, and a place to sit down to weed.
In the pressing area, you will use a heating device of your choice.
Set out a heat mat or stack and smooth two towels on a work surface.
Your pressing surface should be firm, flat, and approximately waist-high. Avoid bumpy or flimsy surfaces.
Open the Everyday iron-on vinyl package you’ve chosen to use.
Before you begin, Cricut recommends performing a test cut using a small basic shape to check the cut settings.
Apply the iron-on in an inconspicuous area on your fabric to verify your application settings.
Preparing to Make a T-Shirt
First off, decide what style and color shirt (or base material) you’d like to use and what style and color of graphics.
Gather and/or purchase all of your supplies. See the materials list above.
Pre-wash your shirt or fabric base material. Do not use fabric softener. Dry the fabric as you plan to do in the future.
Below are instructions to apply the Cricut Everyday Iron-on Vinyl to your shirt.
Choose a T-Shirt Decal Design to Download
To download the free SVG art file, subscribe to access my free download library and receive my newsletter.
You will be prompted to confirm your email. Then you will be sent a password to log in. Download the SVG there.
Or purchase a pack of SVG t-shirt designs HERE.
Upload your SVG File and Size it.
Select and size your design in Cricut Design Space. Go to the Cricut Design Space Tutorial for assistance.
Size it in the top bar or by dragging the lower-left corner of your art. You can also use Cricut’s templates to help you size your graphic correctly.
Be sure it is a “Basic Cut” file, not a “Print to Cut” file.
Click “Make It” in the upper right of Cricut Design Space.
On the next screen, make sure “Mirror” is turned on.
When using iron-on media, your art is reversed.
So to have the type right reading and legible, we need to flip it. In the Cricut Joy app, Mirror is enabled automatically when you select a heat-transfer material.
Meanwhile, get ready your vinyl ready to cut.
1 Measure your everyday vinyl so it is a little bit larger than the final size of your t-shirt graphic, OR you can use the whole width of the roll and cut the length.
Save what does not get cut for future projects.
Prepare Your Iron-On Vinyl (HTV)
2 Cut out the size you need OR place a whole sheet on your mat and save the uncut portion for another project.
You can use cut with a scissor, Xacto knife, and mat or with a Cricut trimmer HERE (affiliate link)
3 Place Iron-on sheet, liner, or shiny side down onto Cricut Standard Grip Cutting Mat.
If you cannot tell which side is shiny, punch a small hole in the corner of your vinyl sheet with your weeding tool. You will be able to tell which side the vinyl is on.
If it is the vinyl side, you’ll be able to poke through and lift the vinyl. Your Vinyl side faces up on the mat so it can be cut.
The carrier side of the sheet will not allow you to pierce through. That side should face down on the mat.
If using Smart Iron-On with Cricut Joy, it may be loaded into the machine without a mat.
4 If you are using a Cricut Explore, turn the Smart Set Dial on the right to Custom.
Select Everyday Iron-On from the list of materials.
Choose More in the pressure drop-down, and once again, be sure that the mirror is On.
Then on your Cricut machine, press the Load/Unload button, the one with the arrow. 😃
5 Load your mat into your Cricut machine. Press the Blinking C button. Your vinyl will begin to cut.
6 When the cutting is complete, gently pull the vinyl off the mat. OR, if your piece of vinyl is large, flip the two upside-down, and pull the mat off the vinyl.
This prevents the larger vinyl pieces from curling too much.
Weeding your Artwork
7 Next, it is time to weed. You want to remove any vinyl that isn’t part of your lettering or artwork.
Sometimes it is easiest to pull the large piece of margin from around the art first.
Then with a weeding tool, pick and pull back to remove the smaller parts of the vinyl.
8 Layout your t-shirt on your EasyPress heat mat or two flat towels on a flat work surface.
9 Preheat the t-shirt for 5 seconds, as instructed in the Cricut Heat Transfer Guide.
10 Place iron-on face down, liner side up. Measure and adjust to choose the perfect position.
11 Set the Cricut Easypress temperature to 315° for regular iron-on vinyl with a cotton t-shirt. Check the heat guide for other materials.
Press with light pressure for 30 seconds, gently moving back and forth if it is larger than your press.
Next, flip your shirt over, and do a 15-second press of your iron-on from the backside.
Note If using an iron, use the cotton/linen setting (usually the highest temperature setting).
Make sure the steam setting is OFF. Preheat the application area of your base material for 10-15 seconds.
Place the weeded image, liner side up, onto the preheated material.
Apply medium pressure with the iron for 25-30 seconds.
Flip the material over and apply medium pressure with the iron to the back of the material for an additional 25-30 seconds.
12 When your liner is slightly cooled but still warm, peel back the plastic carrier sheet, and your iron-on should adhere to your shirt.
If not, press again for a few seconds.
Do not wash your t-shirt for at least 24 hours.
Afterward, wash inside out. Do not bleach. Tumble dry, or to prolong the decal, hang to dry. Enjoy!
I love graphic tees and am still giddy about making t-shirts at home! It’s quick, simple, and fun. Plus super rewarding. 😁
Are you a beginner or an expert at Cricut? I’d love to hear what beginner Cricut projects you are making! Let me know in the comment box below.
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